Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi, Auburn's defense finished the night with a total of six sacks, two interceptions, seven pass break-ups and eight tackles for a loss in the 24-10 win.
Derick Hall, a Mississippi native, was happy to play well in his home state and send out the seniors with a win. The sophomore finished the day with a season-high two sacks.
“Being from Mississippi and coming back here and having a game like that, it’s huge," Hall said. "The will and want to for these seniors, we didn’t get to execute last week at home the way we should. Being able to come here to Starkville and being able to put up a game like that, play for one another and send them out on the right note, was huge.”
Against Texas A&M, Auburn struggled to contain the Aggies on third down, but against Mississippi State, Auburn’s defense made 16 third-down stops as the Bulldogs converted on 4-of-16 third-downs.
“Third down, I mean, our guys, we really responded,” said head coach Gus Malzahn. “I know they’re tired of hearing ‘third-down defense,’ but tonight they responded in a big way against a team that is pretty solid on third down.”
The Tigers may have allowed a first-half field goal and a fourth-quarter touchdown, but Auburn's defense held firm in stopping the air raid attack of Mississippi State.
“Not a lot of people have been able to get to [Mississippi State's quarterback] as of late," Malzahn said. "So I thought coach Steele did a great job of mixing stuff up. I thought our guys played with unbelievable energy.”
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The defense put a lot of pressure on Mississippi State’s true freshman quarterback as the Tigers tallied the previously mentioned six sacks against Mississippi State’s freshman quarterback. The six sacks were a season-high for the Tigers.
“We had a pass rush," Malzahn said. "We sacked him six times. I mean, that was a huge key, and even if we didn’t get to him, we got around him, and our defensive backs were glued on him. They contested just about every ball downfield."
Auburn accounted for two turnovers on the night as Roger McCreary and Smoke Monday picked off Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers. McCreary and Monday's interceptions turned into points for the Tigers as Auburn turned both of those turnovers into field goals.
Tank Bigsby, Auburn’s true freshman running back who rushed for 192 yards on 26 attempts against Mississippi State, felt that the defense played its best game of the season against the Bulldogs.
“I feel like we played our best game on defense today," Bigsby said. "They stood up. We couldn’t get clicking early on offense, and the defense stepped up. I just feel like that was a big part of this game right here, them stepping up and changing the way the game was. I like how Smoke caught that interception and Roger caught that interception. I liked it a lot.”
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